By Steve Vantreese

It certainly will still be summer, but next Saturday brings the start of Kentucky's traditional squirrel hunting season, the first step in the progression of "fall" hunting seasons.

Kentucky's long-established squirrel season begins each year on the third Saturday of August. It's considered a fall season because it spans through fall and into the winter, but every hunter knows full well that it's the steamy heat of summer that's waiting in the woods in the outset.

Squirrel hunting makes for the commonwealth's most generous small game opportunities. The season this time runs Aug. 17 through the leap year's Feb. 29, minus the time-out days of Nov. 9-10 during the first weekend of the firearms deer season. And that doesn't even count the spring squirrel season, which is a less traditional offering.

Hunters will find regulations unchanged for the bushytail season ahead. The daily bag limit remains six squirrels, while the possession limit is double that after two or more days of hunting.

Legal weaponry includes shotguns (maximum of 10 gauge, shot pellets no larger than No. 2), rimfire rifles and handguns, .410 handguns, muzzleloading rifles, archery and crossbow gear, .17-.25 caliber air guns, slingshots with manufactured ammunition and, for those with proper licensing, falconry.

Dogs can be used in the course of squirrel hunting.

One of the bigger hunter outpourings of the year occurs Sept. 1, a Sunday this year, with opening day of the mourning dove hunting season. The segmented dove season will be Sept. 1-Oct. 25, Nov. 28-Dec. 8 and Dec. 21-Jan. 12, but dove hunting activity peaks right out of the gate. Opening day is typically a major event, and a high percentage of all dove hunting usually takes place during the first couple weekends.

Sept. 1 also brings the opening of crow, rail and gallinule seasons as well as the general falconry season, although these bring miniscule reactions compared to dove season.

Much more significant in terms of participation is the Sept. 7 -- first Saturday in September -- opening of the archery season for deer and wild turkeys as well as the senior crossbow deer hunting period.

You won't notice it in west Kentucky, but Sept. 14 brings the start of the early season for hunting elk with archery equipment and crossbows in the eastern elk zone.

Sept. 16 is opening day of the early Canada goose hunting season. It runs through Sept. 30 statewide. Sept. 18, if anyone notices, is opening day of the snipe hunting season.

Then on Sept. 21 arrives the start of Kentucky's special wood duck and early migrating teal season. Also opening the same date is the new, expanded general crossbow season for deer and wild turkeys. All this shows up before Sept. 23, the first official day of fall.

The raccoon and opossum hunting season begins Oct. 1. Bigger game becomes the focus first with the early youth firearms deer season. It runs the weekend of Oct. 12-13, and that is followed a week later with the early muzzleloader season for deer, Oct. 19-20.

The weekend following that, the early fall shotgun season for wild turkeys of either sex begins Oct. 26. The first day of woodcock hunting also happens on that date.

Marching on, the biggest opening day in terms of hunter participation comes Nov. 9 with the start of Kentucky's popular firearms season for deer. The Monday after the Saturday deer season opener is Nov. 11, and on that date starts the rabbit and quail season in western Kentucky. That occurs simultaneously with the start of the statewide furbearer hunting and trapping seasons and the resumption of squirrel hunting after the deer season opening weekend shutdown.

And on it goes, including waterfowling a relative few days later. But it all starts with a summer to winter slide that is kicked off with next week's squirrel season opening.

• Cicadas singing at night? Not likely.

We hear people asking about this now and then, and most likely it's a case of mistaken insect identify. Nowadays it's common to hear quite a chorus of annual cicadas buzzing and whirring up in the trees right up until dark -- but not beyond.

The tune tends to morph right about then to a softer nocturnal song. And that's because of the shift change among the singers. Cicadas shut down in darkness. It's katydids that take up the soundtrack overnight.

A confusion factor is we tend not to see any of those singers. The clearish-winged cicadas may be high in trees, well concealed by surrounding leaves and mere distance. The katydids may have the same cover around them, and then there's that element of darkness.

The katydid is a grasshopper-like insect. Multiple species are out there, most of which are bright green, up to about 2 inches long. The adults in profile look much like a simple leaf, often complete with veins, with grasshopper legs and long, thin antennae. The look provides ideal camouflage since they spend most of their time in the upper branches of trees eating leaves.

We call them katydids because that's part of what the males' courtship calling sounds like. By rubbing its wings together, a male produces an odd, squeaky clicking that long has been described as similar to the sound of someone saying "Katy did. Katy didn't."

It's a fairly gentle sound, but when it is multiplied by throngs of calling male katydids, the soundtrack of a thick woodland in summer grows to be significant racket. Anybody who's spent summer nights camping in the woods knows how pervasive katydid calls can be.

And the cicadas? They'll clock back in come morning.

Steve Vantreese is a freelance outdoors writer. Email outdoors news items to outdoors@paducahsun.com or phone 270-575-8650.

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